All posts by Danny Scroggins

Reading Panel Information

To keep you all on your toes we will be masquerading as ‘Reading Panel Society’ for the next few weeks!

Long-time Reading Panel signalman Dave Davidson has kindly loaned some paperwork to SPS regarding the arrangements for opening Reading Panel, way back in 1965, so that we can scan it and share it with you.

Although there are a lot of high-level plans, there is also a great deal of fascinating contemporaneous minutiae too, which gives a brilliant window into the thoughts and concerns at the time.

We will post these documents on the Swindon Panel Facebook page.

We will try to post them in timeline order, so that they make sense relative to each other. The first is from 31 March 1965, before the panel opened. It is a note from the F. D. Pattisson, Divisional Manager at Paddington, to District Inspector Rixon at Reading, in what nowadays would be an email note, concerned with the provision of gradient profiles in the new signal box (that being Reading Panel), and asking him to transfer the gradient profiles from the mechanical boxes into the panel.

To be fair to the railway, it does still concern itself with gradient profiles in signal boxes, and when the Reading area moved to TVSC in 2010 large-print gradient profiles were provided. (Admittedly on the backs of the workstations where no-one could see them….) Alas, those were re-prints, unfortunately not the pre-1965 originals!

Thank you to Dave for lending us this paperwork, there is loads more of it to come over the next few weeks!

Swindon Panel Opening in 2023

Swindon Panel will re-open for business in February for the 2023 season.

Opening dates will be published for each month near the start of that month.

Swindon Panel’s opening dates are based on volunteer availability. If you would like to join the demonstration team at Swindon Panel you will be very welcome!

Demonstration days are normally a selection of Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and bank holidays.

Members’ Weekend Fun & Games

Thank you to everyone who attended Members’ Weekend.

Unfortunately transport disruption meant not everyone could attend who wanted to, but those who were present enjoyed stretching their panel legs in new directions that aren’t possible when the panel is being used to demonstrate to visitors.

Many of the ‘failure modes’ of the panel were experimented with, such as track circuit failures, remote control failures and use of overrides, and a period of ‘Emergency Special Working’ over the area of the panel that is currently being re-wired (conveniently!).

Emergency Special Working is a relatively new method of degraded working of trains during times of failure, allowing drivers to disregard several signals in a row. It is used when there is a widespread failure of signalling equipment such as a power failure, etc. (Don’t worry, there are safeguards in place to make sure it remains safe!)

There will be another members’ weekend next year no doubt, and we look forward to seeing you then!

SPS Members’ Weekend – Saturday 8 / Sunday 9 October 2022.

SPS Members’ Weekend – Saturday 8 / Sunday 9 October 2022.

All SPS members are invited to Members’ Weekend to see the latest progress and developments at Swindon Panel and Didcot Railway Centre. Whatever your level of signalling knowledge or experience, come and visit the panel you’ve all contributed to preserving and have a chat with some old friends and maybe make some new ones too!

The format has varied over the years – ranging from allocated slots to a ‘free for all’ – and we we be pleased to hear from interested members on the format you would like to see.

The panel can be open overnight if members wish to operate it.

If you would like to take part but don’t know how to work the panel, don’t worry, there will be plenty of members around to help you! Everyone is keen to show new people how things work.

If you are interested in taking part in the event please contact Danny Scroggins (by email or HOPS message, stating your views on format, date/time constraints/requests etc).

If you’re not yet a member, but are keen to take part, membership is only a click away!

See you there!

Thank you to Mid-Hants Signalmen!

Thank you very much to our friends at the Mid-Hants Railway Signalling Department for hosting a visit from SPS members.

Here we are assembled on the steps of the magnificent Ropley Signal Box (ex-Netley) during a very interesting day visiting the lines four signal boxes.

Visits to signal boxes and other signalling-interest locations take place from time to time for SPS members.

Swindon Panel AGM

The ninth SPS AGM will be on 28 May 2022, held online via Teams, at 2pm.

All members are invited to attend, please email for the meeting link. Non-members are welcome to attend if they wish, but may not cast votes.

As always, the agenda will be…
– Welcome from the Chairman
– Adoption of minutes from 2021
– Finance report (Brian)
– Membership report (Peter)
– Plans ahead report (Danny)
– Re-election of trustees
– Q&A

This year is Brian Davis and Jamie Brooker’s turn to retire, having completed their two-year term since the three-year retiring system was introduced in 2020. We are pleased to say that both offer themselves for re-election and the trustees recommend both of them to receive your support.

Items raised by members in the Q&A section will be considered “formal” but, as always, there will be the opportunity for informal discussion and questions after the meeting if anyone wishes to raise or discuss anything informally.

SPS AGM – Saturday 19 June

Swindon Panel Society’s 2021 AGM will be held VIA ONLINE MEETING at 3pm on Saturday 19 June.

It is necessary to register ( to attend the meeting.

After registering you will receive a link to the actual meeting.

Zoom is free to download. When you click the meeting link (which you receive after registering), there is an option to download Zoom if you don’t already have it.

It is also possible to dial in by telephone.

We will start the session a bit early to give everyone time to join in and iron out any computer issues.
Non-members are welcome to attend but may not vote.

(We will hold an in-person members’ social event at the panel as soon as circumstances allow.)

Photo shows the Henry Williams bear, joining in the AGM by phone in Swindon Panel. The bear was sent by HW to the Swindon Panel opening event 2018!

Swindon Panel Re-opens 22 May

Swindon Panel will re-open on Saturday 22 May!

Our calendar of Demonstration Days for May and June is now available at:

Come and visit us at Didcot Railway Centre and have a go at operating Swindon Panel under the guidance of our volunteer demonstrators.


DIDCOT RAILWAY CENTRE LOCKDOWN GUARANTEE – Should national or local Covid-19 regulations oblige us to postpone your booked Steam Day or should you need to postpone due to coronavirus or in order to self-isolate, then you can transfer to another Steam Day later in 2021.

SPS Members: SPS members are welcome to visit, please show your SPS membership card at the DRC ticket gate for entry. If you wish to stay for longer than a ‘normal’ public visit to the panel please let us know in advance so that we can avoid conflicts as space is limited as the far end of the room is blocked off at the moment.



Didcot Railway Centre is planning to re-open and welcome visitors to the open-air parts of the site (plus the well-ventilated loco shed) for ‘Open Air Steam Days’ at Weekends and on Wednesdays from the 14 April 2021 (step 2 of the Roadmap out of Lockdown).

Some facilities can’t open yet, such as the Small Artefacts Museum, Air Raid Shelter and The Signalling Centre – these will reopen at a later date in line with Government guidance with appropriate measures in place to keep everyone safe.

Swindon Panel (part of The Signalling Centre) is an “indoor … museum and gallery”, and will not be able to open until at least step 3 of the roadmap. The earliest this can take place, if all other conditions are favourable, is 17 May.

We will continue to monitor the situation and the feeling of SPS volunteers and give a firmer date as the situation develops and, hopefully, the Covid risk recedes, but we know that this can’t be any earlier than 17 May.

Thank you to all our members and supporters who continue their interest in Swindon Panel from afar, and to our friends at DRC with whom we work closely on all the plans and restrictions.

This week marks Swindon Panel’s 53rd anniversary of opening. For the latter part of its main line life Swindon Panel staff worked 12 hour shifts, changing over at 6am and 6pm. As most shift workers will recognise, that time at about 5 o’clock where you start to wash up and pack away hoping to see the car of your relief arriving ‘any minute now’….. We are at the 5am stage now where the end of this ‘shift from hell’ is in sight! The only difference is, rather than looking forward to going home, we’re now looking forward to go TO Swindon Panel!